AOL Trims PR Department

AOL has laid off about 20 corporate communications employees, including many of the media relations staff that generated publicity for Gold Rush and other original programming, OnlineMediaDaily has learned.

The layoffs, which occurred late last week, marked the first major structural change of AOL's corporate communications staff in about five years, said Tricia Primrose Wallace, executive vice president of corporate communications at AOL.

The staff reductions were seen by some as an indication that new AOL chairman Randy Falco is retreating from the company's original programming. In addition to Gold Rush, the people who were laid off did publicity for efforts like Moviefone's interview series, "Unscripted," and the self-help initiative "Coaches."

But Primrose Wallace, who recently took over as head of AOL's corporate communications, said this weekend that the layoffs don't signal a pullback from original programming. She said the purpose of the staff reductions is to streamline the department and better align it with the company's overall strategy. Now, she said, publicity for original programming will be handled by the same team that promotes the company's products and platforms. Anne Bentley will oversee those efforts.



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